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Social Science Korea Human Rights Forum
Hun Joon Kim and Vanessa Newby, ‘The Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in the DPRK: Background and Activities’, SSK Human Rights Brief 6, June 2014.
The Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) reported its initial findings on 17 February 2014 in a press conference to the public. This event typified the open and very public nature of the workings of the commission since its creation on 21 March 2013. From its inception, the commissioners intended to draw public attention to the inquiry through the powerful use of public testimonies which described the horrors of life in North Korean prison camps. The inquiry was developed in response to continued pressure from NGOs and charities committed to publicising stories of the atrocities that have slowly been leaking out of North Korea since 1995, but which gained momentum after the appointment of a UN Special Rapporteur in 2004. The consistent refusal of the DPRK to cooperate with the UN or indeed respond to its reports and recommendations also assisted in precipitating the formation of the Commission. Ultimately, the inquiry was designed to assist with shaming the DPRK into changing their domestic policies, and as such, the commission appears to have taken this issue into consideration as part of its strategy to obtain the best outcomes possible for the inquiry. This paper provides a background and summary of the activities of the Commission of Inquiry.